This is a report about installing GNU/Linux on a Asus S5200N sub-notebook.
The Asus S5200N is really a nice and light machine. I bought the bigger version with Pentium M 1600, 512MB RAM and 60GB disk. It is a Centrino notebook.
This sub-notebook has only a hard disk installed and comes with an external USB 2.0 DVD-R/CD-RW. Thus it is perfectly equipped for a sub-notebook which is mainly used while traveling. At the moment I use it five days a week about 3 hours each in train and I'm still delighted :-) .
One of the rarely seen advantages for Free Software fans is that this sub-notebook can be ordered without operating system. I.e. no M$ tax when you don't need Windows anyway :-) . This is one of the reasons why it is also cheap - and why I bought it.
I also like the concept of the three sorts of accumulators available for this model. They have 3, 6 and 9 cells built in and run time is accordingly. The small one with 3 cells is the default equipment. With my (very resource friendly use) it runs for up to two hours. The bigger one with 6 cells I bought in addition protrudes a bit on the back side - which I find in no way annoying. It runs for four hours for me. This way on my daily trip I need no power adapter and can recharge at home. Unfortunately the accumulators can not be changed while running.
In addition the Asus S5200N looks really nice. Meanwhile several persons in the train asked me about this nice machine because they liked the design and the small form factor.
The only real drawback is the positioning of the Fn key which is located in the lower left corner of the keyboard - where in German PC keyboards usually a control key is. Because this key is not reported to the operating system it can't be remapped in X :-( . Otherwise I find the keyboard (18mm keys) perfectly usable. I routinely switch between the laptop keyboard and normal ones and have no problems. Also I'm typing with ten fingers which is also no problem.
The Asus S5200N also has a full set of interfaces including
- three USB ports
- IEEE1394 / Firewire port (I didn't use it until now)
- port for memory sticks and the like
- VGA port
- PCMCIA slot (I didn't use it until now)
- modem port (I didn't use it until now)
- Ethernet port
- microphone port
- headphone port
The laptop also comes with a wireless, optical USB mouse. I tried it once and it worked. I guess it can be used with another computer as well.
Also there are two bags coming with the laptop. One bag is a small one which is more like a padded etui to be put into another bag. This I'm using on a daily basis. The other bag is a full-blown shoulder bag which in itself is a useful thing.
The optical USB drive already mentioned can (probably) be used with every computer. Asus delivers a special cable which connects the optical drive with one of the USB ports and an additional power supply directly besides this port. This way the optical drive does not need an additional power supply and can be used while traveling. However, the manual says you can use an external power supply and use the optical drive with another computer. I.e. a free USB DVD-R/CD-RW drive for your desktop.
Actually this is something I like very much with Asus: They don't cripple their hardware to force you to buy some extra expensive adapter or the like from them.
I installed SuSE 9.0 which is delivered with kernel 2.4.21. In general there were no real problems. Of course all operations need to be done as user root.
ACPI support, however, in this kernel is not as mature as one would wish for. Thus the following is with ACPI disabled except where noted.
Because the optical drive is external booting from CD is an issue. However, in the BIOS setting I changed the Boot device priority to
1st Boot Device = ASUS SCB-2408
and SuSE booted without any problem.
There are reports that without further measures booting fails with Knoppix, Libranet and Mepis(?). I also tried an older Knoppix and simple booting indeed failed.
For Libranet the solution is to enter linux usbcd at the boot prompt.
A Knoppix 3.4 booted even(?) from DVD without problems and both kernels.
For Knoppix 3.6 someone suggested this solution:
- Burn the CD
- Copy the cd-rom/knoppix directory to your Windows partition (that is: if you are unlucky enough to have one ;-) ).
- Boot Knoppix 3.6 from CD-ROM
- File system is read from hard disk
- Than you can resize your Windows partition and install Knoppix / Debian
For Knoppix 3.7 the 2.6 kernel makes trouble on booting while the 2.4 kernel runs smoothly.
If you have further solutions for this, please write to me so I can add the solution here.
The basic installation was no problem for the really important things.
Installation recognized Asustek RTL-8139/8139C/8139C+ (rev 16) and configured it correctly.
However, in my home LAN I noticed that the internal network adapter did not auto-negotiated the protocol correctly with my old 10MBit hub resulting in extremely low transfer speed . mii-tool said "eth0: autonegotiation failed, link ok". I created a file /etc/sysconfig/network/scripts/mii-tool-F containing:
#!/bin/sh mii-tool --force 10baseT-HD "$1"
In /etc/sysconfig/network/ifcfg-eth0 I added a line
so this is reconfigured on boot.
Installation recognized Intel Corp. 82801DB AC'97 Modem Controller (rev 3). I didn't use it so far so I can't say whether this Winmodem(?) works.
The installation recognized a Intel Corp. 82852/855GM Integrated Graphics Device (rev 2).
The driver basically worked but when switching from X to the first console you get only colored patterns. Other consoles stay black. I added vga=normal during boot which solved the problem.
If a monitor / beamer is attached to the VGA port you get some colored dirt at the very top of both display when switching back to X. There seems to be a bug in the X server for this chip. However, it can be solved by closing and re-opening the lid.
I changed the X configuration using SaX2. I set the monitor to LCD with 1024X768@70HZ. This is the resolution of the built in 12" LCD and this resolution works with every beamer I saw during the last years.
When VGA is active it duplicates the LCD which is perfect for my use. I did not try twin head operation or different resolutions.
Installation recognized a Intel Corp. 82801DB AC'97 Audio Controller (rev 3)
Configuring the sound card actually was a problem. It worked and then again it stopped working...
To make a long story short: I removed the default ALSA driver and used the OpenSoundSystem (OSS) driver according to a similar description at http://portal.suse.com/sdb/de/2001/10/swgkern_maestro.html, second option.
Note: As far as I know until 9.0 SuSE added the OSS drivers to their kernel. I don't know about other distributions and if OSS is not built into your kernel your mileage may vary.
- In /etc/modules.conf I commented out all alias sound- lines.
In my case these were created by SuSE's yast2. alsaconf probably does similar things.
According to the named page this should be done in run level 3 so the buggy sound drivers are not loaded. It was not necessary for me because though the sound driver didn't work as it should it did not prevent the machine from running. If you want to try it in run level 3 enter linux 3 at the boot prompt.
- There was no entry in /var/lib/YaST/unique.inf so I left it alone.
- According to the named page you should then do
- rcalsasound stop or rmmod XXX where XXX stands for the ALSA sound module used so far.
- Use lsmod to control all audio modules are unloaded.
I skipped this step and rebooted after the next step.
- In /etc/modules.conf I changed
alias char-major-14 off alias sound off alias midi off
alias char-major-14 i810_audio # alias sound off # alias midi off
This tells the kernel to use the OSS driver i810_audio as a kernel module. If in the kernel it lives in /lib/modules/2.4.21-99-default/kernel/drivers/sound/i810_audio.o.
- Using yast2 I also removed alsasound from the boot sequence but don't know whether this was actually necessary.
- After a reboot this configuration worked and produced output on the built-in speaker.
However, you need to install a mixer capable of driving OSS. I chose aumix. There the headphone port can be controlled separately from the built-in speaker and it is done by channel Pcm2.
After the reboot now there are no sound modules loaded any more which you may check with lsmod. After starting aumix lsmod has these additional lines:
According to the named page you should now be able to call an OSS mixer (e.g. kmix) and lsmod should list it. Also you should try depmod -a if it didn't work. I recommend to not use kmix today. It seems to try to know better and using ALSA.
i810_audio 22972 0 (autoclean) ac97_codec 10516 0 (autoclean) [i810_audio] soundcore 3588 0 (autoclean) [i810_audio]
The built-in microphone works but has the usual problems of microphones built into a laptop (somewhat noisy, hard disk movement hearable). An external electret microphone worked but needed the full amplification. I did not test with dynamic microphones. I did not dare to use the microphone port for line-in.
Unfortunately the built-in microphone seemingly is not switched off even when there is an external microphone connected.
The touchpad normally works in emulation mode and emulates a PS/2 mouse. This works ok but if you type you'll soon note another standard problem of notebook touchpads: While typing you touch it with your thumb once in a while. Of course this is extremely annoying if working with a modern window based system.
However, there is an explicit driver for the Synaptics touchpad. There is a driver included in the SuSE kernel already (version 0.11.3) but it has less functionality than I wanted.
So I got version 0.13.2 from the Internet and translated and installed it as described in the documentation of this package. Now I have a mouse wheel emulation on the right edge of the touchpad which is handy at times. However, what is really useful is the syndaemon which under X switches the touchpad off as soon as there is typing and on again after two seconds of non-typing.
I looked at http://ipw2100.sourceforge.net/ but this needs kernel 2.4.26+ or 2.6.4+ which I do not have installed.
So I turned to http://ndiswrapper.sourceforge.net/. Via http://sourceforge.net/projects/ndiswrapper/ I downloaded ndiswrapper-0.9.tar.gz. Via http://ndiswrapper.sourceforge.net/supported_chipsets.html I downloaded ftp://www.asus.com/pub/ASUS/nb/M2N/PROW7100_XP_v126.96.36.199_logo.zip which contains the Windoze driver (brrr...).
I installed according to INSTALL and things worked as they should. I now have wlan0 by driver w70n51. I chose yast2 to setup the network interface. As expected I needed to configure a yet undetected card.
This configuration worked in an arbitrary WLAN.
On Fedora Core 3 someone reported for an M5Np (similar model) that V0.13 of the http://ipw2200.sf.net worked for him after making, installing and putting the latest firmware to /lib/firmware.
The Asus S5200N boots with ACPI enabled but there is a problem which drives the keventd crazy. You note this effect when with no other activity CPU usage rises to 100%, the ventilator starts and outputs a constant stream of hot air at the left side. The machine still works but is awfully slow. This effect pops up erratically regardless whether on or off power and once it is there only a reboot solves the problem.
In other words: ACPI is not usable with this kernel.
However, I tried it a bit and in case you feel experimental here are some traps you can prevent.
I installed acpi4asus in version 0.28 from http://sourceforge.net/projects/acpi4asus/ but this didn't change much - and it is not expected to do so. I guess it would make the special speed key above the keyboard in the left top corner available and may be also the WLAN LED at the front edge of the machine but without working ACPI this module can not do much.
If you switch ACPI on the machine boots but shuts down again before it is really up. I removed thermal from ACPI_MODULES in /etc/sysconfig/powermanagement and the startup continued uninterrupted.
The good thing is: The only thing I need ACPI for really is checking the status of the accumulator when I'm expect it to run out soon. However, in my standard usage this does not happen and so I have really no need for ACPI.
Unfortunately Asus did not build APM into the BIOS. With the notebook I used previously I used APM and that way it was easy to monitor the accumulator.
However, the BIOS is intelligent enough to do most of the things that ACPI makes configurable alone when ACPI is not used. In particular:
- Fn-F1 switches to Standby mode. Closing the lid also does this. Wake up by pressing any key.
- Fn-F2 should switch WLAN. I made no final tests yet but it seems working.
- Fn-F3 and Fn-F4 are special keys for mail and browser. They probably generate ACPI events.
- Fn-F5 and Fn-F6 control brightness of the LCD. This works great. Also maximum brightness is very good so the machine can be used even in bright environments.
- Fn-F7 switches the LCD off and on as it should.
- Fn-F8 switches the VGA port. This works but gives the dirt effects described above when switching back to X. However, this works really good only if you booted with VGA plugged in. Otherwise it forgets the VGA port when switching to X :-( .
- Fn-F9 does not switch the touchpad on or off but see above.
- Fn-F10 switches the built-in speaker off and on.
- Fn-F11 and Fn-F12 control the volume of the built-in speaker.
- Speedbutton There is a button above the top left corner of the keyboard. I have no idea whether this changes something. According to /proc/sys/cpu/0/speed it does not.
- WLAN LED in the LED bar at the front edge of the device seems to work. It blinked blue when I entered a WLAN area.
That's nearly everything you can wish for :-) .
When not using ACPI when resuming from Standby mode USB does not work always.
I installed KUbuntu 7.04 (Feisty Fawn) which uses a 2.6.20 kernel. The following things worked fine from scratch:
- VGA port
A picture was produced when the laptop started with a VGA monitor plugged in.
- Ethernet port
So far I did not test:
- IEEE1394 / Firewire port
- PCMCIA slot
- modem port
- microphone port
- headphone port
With kernel 2.6.20 I tried a Micro SD card in an adapter. The card is recognized but unfortunately the SD card reader chip is probably an Ricoh Co Ltd RL5c476 II which is not supported by this kernel. Thus so far memory cards are not supported.
CPU scaling works just fine.
If you use cpufreq you need to name the Centrino module explicitly in /etc/default/cpufreqd by CPUFREQ_CPU_MODULE="speedstep-centrino".
With this kernel ACPI works to an acceptable degree. All the information about the devices including battery charge can be obtained.
Sleep mode works once but if you try it a second time the laptop doesn't wake up again :-( .
Hibernation I did not try so far.
You can contact Stefan Merten (that's me) at
smerten at oekonux dot de
If my description helped you it would be nice if you drop me a line :-) . Also if you have better information please tell me and I publish it here.
$Id: asus_s5200n.sdf,v 1.13 2015/02/26 20:56:19 stefan Exp $